— information leafblower

Top 25 Concerts of 2010

When it’s all said and done next week, I will have seen about 135 concerts in the calendar year of 2010. Even I am surprised by that number. But let’s be frank. These days, for me, going to a concert amounts to staying for 5 or 6 songs before I head home and start editing photos. So keep that in mind when you’re reading this. That said, here are 25 shows that stood out in 2010.

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25) Editors @ 9:30 Club
In This Light And On This Evening is more synth heavy than their previous albums, which worried me for their live show, but that wasn’t an issue here. If anything, the band’s new direction just added to the massiveness of their sound.


24) The Soft Pack @ Black Cat
One of my favorite albums of the year led to one of the best shows. These guys will be playing bigger venues very, very soon.


23) Mary J. Blige @ Jiffy Lube
This show was a late addition to the year’s concert calendar and as a result, not many people bought tickets, which was a shame because Mary J. performed like it was the biggest show of her career. It was incredible.


22) George Clinton @ 9:30 Club
This show had such a great vibe. Photogs were allowed to shoot the whole show and I stayed for a good hour or so, watching Clinton and his huge band do their thing. I didn’t know it at the time but this would be my first and only time seeing Garry Shider perform with the band. He succumbed to cancer later in the year. RIP.


21) Grinderman @ 9:30 Club
It’s Nick Cave! Girls were throwing their panties at him. Of course it was brilliant.


20) Phoenix @ DAR
This show was very alarming for me. It was incredible and everyone in the venue was going absolutely apeshit. Except for me. The bad lighting and tough shooting conditions really kept me from enjoying this wonderful show. Later that night I told myself I would start going to at least one show a month without my camera so I could just go, relax and enjoy a concert on its own merits.


19) Hole @ 9:30 Club
Not one of the best gigs by any means, but definitely one of the most memorable. Too bad I skipped out after three songs, la Love was already an hour late and I wasn’t sticking around for what I knew would be a train wreck of epic proportions.

18) The Futureheads @ Black Cat
I went to this show without my camera and I’m glad I did. I’m not sure what The Futureheads have done to fade from everyone’s hotly tipped lists, but this show proved to me that they’ve still got their fastball. They’ve got tons of great songs with huge hooks and they sound mega in any venue. I totally fell back in love with the band at this gig. It was 2006 all over again.


17) Rock The Bells @ Merriweather
My high school and early college cd collection came to life after seeing A Tribe Called Quest, Snoop Dogg, KRS-One and the Wu Tang Clan perform their most popular material from the mid-90s. Midnight Marauders is one of my favorite albums of all time, so getting to see Tribe perform that material was a really treat.


16) Soundtrack Of Our Lives @ House of Sweden
Ever been to a gig at a foreign embassy? This was my first and it rocked just as hard as a regular gig. Well, maybe a little less so due to the acoustic guitars, but anytime you get to hard “Sister Surround” (one of the best stadium-rock worthy songs in the last 15 years), that’s a good night. The band played a proper gig later that night at the Black Cat. This gig was so good I almost went and bought a ticket. Sadly, editing duty called.


14,15) Spoon @ 9:30 Club
There aren’t many bands that I will stay the whole show to see these days but there was no way I would not see each and every song of these two shows. I’ve seen Spoon 12+ times and these shows rank among the best. My only complaint was the crappy lighting.


13) Gorillaz @ Patriot Center
The show itself was great but my favorite part of this night was walking past Mick Jones and Paul Simonon on my way to the photo pit and saying what’s up to De La Soul as they came off the stage after performing “Superfast Jellyfish.”


12) Arcade Fire & Spoon @ Merriweather
This gig is on the list no so much for the actual gig, but more the vibe at the gig itself. Everyone in D.C. was there, the Funeral material still rang true and best of all, I finally got to shoot Spoon in decent light!


11) Pearl Jam @ Jiffy Lube Live
I remember this show just as much for the awesome show as the photo of Eddie Vedder I landed on the front page of the Washington Post (my first). I’ve seen Pearl Jam plenty of times and they’re always great, but this show gets extra points because I finally got the hear “Faithful.”


10) Talib Kweli @ Black Cat
This show was straight fire. Kweli killed it while previewing the then unreleased Revolutions Per Minute and showed why he is one of the best MCs on the entire planet. Tabi Bonney  opened, which was a nice bonus.


9) Here We Go Magic @ Black Cat
I fell in love with HWGM after catching them open for Grizzly Bear last year. They played a so-so show at the Rock n Roll Hotel early in the year before blowing me away again at Pitchfork in Chicago as well as this Black Cat show. The cat show in particular ramped up the energy very quickly and kept it there throughout.


8 ) Pitchfork Festival in Chicago
The good (Robyn, Pavement, LCD Soundsystem, cheap tacos, meeting new friends) outweighed the bad (comically over-crowded photo pits, the heat, the spotty bill). Hearing Pavement play for the first time in a decade was pretty great, but the high point was when LCD played “All My Friends” and looking around and seeing everyone in attendance dancing their asses off.


7) Robyn & Kellis @ 9:30 Club
I think you can make a good argument for Robyn being THE artist of 2010. Seeing this show would only convince you. Kelis’ transformation from hip hopper into club diva was very interesting. As was her outfit.


6,5,4) Janelle Monae @ DAR / Merriweather / 9:30 Club
I saw Janelle Monae three times this year and each time was jaw-droppingly good. The DAR show was the first show of hers that I saw and I decided right then and there to see her as many times as I could. It was one of the best decisions I made all year.


3) Teenage Fanclub / Vaselines @ 9:30 Club
Truth be told TFC’s setlist at the 9:30 Club was pretty similar to their 2005 show (Substituting the newer Shadows material for the Man-Made songs) but these guy only tour every five years and each time they do, it’s special. I don’t remember being happier at any other show in 2010. Finally getting to see The Vaselines was the icing on the cake.


2) Underworld @ 9:30 Club
Anytime you get to see a stadium headliner play a club show, it’s going to be special. This show delivered. The new material from Barking sounded right at home with old classics like “Rez/Cowgirl” and “King Of Snake.” All shows should be this fun.


1) Virgin Mobile Festival @ Merriweather
I look forward to this date every year.There’s not much I like doing more than shooting big rock festivals and D.C.’s local event is definitely a favorite of mine. This year’s bill of Jimmy Eat World, The Temper Trap, Joan Jett, Sleigh Bells, M.I.A., Ludacris, Pavement and LCD Soundsystem was better than expected and (importantly for me) free of any photo restrictions. Let’s be serious, it’s hard to beat a Pavement / M.I.A. / LCD Soundsystem trifecta to end the night and all three acts really delivered. My everlasting memory of this show will be sitting in the media tent and editing photos while listening to LCD absolutely kill it, something I wish would happen to me more often.

Here’s to 2011!

1 comment
  1. The former Ms Smith says: December 22, 20101:45 pm

    Remember that #22 George Clinton – that photo, on April 13, was the first time you had a photo on the ‘front page’ slideshow on washingtonpost.com. I printed a screenshot and hung it in my office – most everybody asks why I have a photo of George Clinton in my office!

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